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Allblk Review 2021

The Urban Movie Channel traded one awkward name for another. The video streaming service abandoned all synonyms and rebranded itself as Allblk, because its content is “all Black.” Founded by notorious BET mastermind Robert L. Johnson, Allblk offers a similar blend of contemporary African-American shows and movies from across many genres. The service doesn’t go above and beyond in terms of its catalog or special features, but it sits comfortably in a still-underappreciated Black streaming niche. 

What Can You Watch on Allblk?

As the revamped version of the Urban Movie Channel, Allblk retains that focus on modern, Black films. Think of it as the inverse of Brown Sugar‘s classic Blaxploitation catalog, or a more modest alternative to BET+’s mainstream selection. 

A huge indictment of the way Hollywood treats Black talent is how often talented Black actors show up in what would otherwise be schlock. While many movies on Allblk contain a certain direct-to-video vibe, you’ll still see recognizable faces such as Kevin Hart, Terrence Howard, and Jennifer Hudson. There’s the popular biopic miniseries The Jacksons: An American Dream, starring Angela Bassett and Billy Dee Williams. Nina faced controversy for using questionable makeup to turn Zoe Saldana into Nina Simone, but it’s a curiosity if nothing else. Lila and Eve is a decent crime drama, but it’s elevated by stars Viola Davis and Jennifer Lopez. To my surprise and delight, Allblk also has the acclaimed Shudder Black horror documentary Horror Noire.

Beyond the movies, Allblk’s library includes comedy specials and music documentaries. Want to explore Bernie Mac’s comedic chops was or get a glimpse into Soulja Boy’s life? That’s all here. Allblk also has a decent collection of original TV shows. 40 & Single follows the ups and downs of Black romance from an unexpectedly progressive perspective. Double Cross is a vigilante thriller that stars twins. Naked Hustle follows the human beings behind the world of exotic dancing.  

Featuring more than 200 movies and shows, Allblk doesn’t have the biggest library in the dedicated Black streaming world, though it still offers far more content than the truly tiny BlackOakTV. KweliTV has more than 400 movies and shows, while BET+ has more than “1,000 hours” of content. When it comes to content quality, KweliTV, in particular, shines because of its focus on international Black cinema. Still, Allblk service manages to provide enough variety that most viewers should at least be able to find something interesting. 

How Much Does Allblk Cost?

Allblk costs $6.99 per month or $59.99 per year. I also found site pages that indicate a $4.99-per-year subscription. Perhaps that’s a holdover from Urban Movie Channel’s prices or maybe it’s because I subscribed through the mobile app rather than on the web. Whatever the reason, assume that Allblk costs $6.99 per month, and be pleasantly surprised if you get charged less.

Besides, $6.99 is a reasonable price for streaming video. For comparison, Brown Sugar costs $3.99 per month, BlackOakTV costs $4.99 per month, and KweliTV costs $5.99 per month. The outlier is BET+ at $9.99 per month, which is too expensive for what you ultimately get. At that point, you might as well opt for general streaming services. Editors’ Choice picks Hulu ($11.99 per month for the ad-free plan) and Netflix ($13.99 per month for the Standard plan) are roughly double the price of Allblk. Peacock, another Editors’ Choice pick, contains a large library of free, mainstream movies and TV shows.

You can watch Allblk on the web, mobile devices (Android and iOS), and streaming media devices (Apple TV, Chromecast, Fire TV, Roku). Amazon Prime Video subscribers can add Allblk as a Prime Video channel, which is the only way to watch the service on video game consoles. If you purchase Allblk through Amazon (where the price is $4.99 per month), you can also download episodes, plus view the cast list while watching by clicking the X-Ray button.

Allblk mobile

Allblk on the Web and Mobile

A video streaming service’s aesthetic shouldn’t matter much, since you’ll spend most of your time watching videos. Still, I found the interface’s rich, warm, black-and-gold tones unexpectedly pleasing. I just like looking at the site. Even the lowercase font feels welcoming.

More importantly, the interface is easy to navigate. No matter where you go, you have access to the search bar, as well as links back to the home screen, popular shows, the gift card store, and the general help page. You can search by title or by actors, as each listing includes the director and cast members alongside a content description. Search categories include genres (drama, romance), formats (movies, TV, stage play), and shows you recently viewed or added to your watchlist.

Unless you count the included optional trailers, Allblk’s sole subscription is an ad-free experience. Unfortunately, the video resolution maxes out at 720p. 4K may be a lot to ask for, but most other services, from Disney+ to HBO Max, at least offer 1080p content. Even KweliTV’s low-budget, independent programming occasionally hits 1080p. The good news is that I didn’t experience any playback issues over my home Wi-Fi connection (60Mbps download).

Allblk looks just as snazzy on mobile as it does on the web. I primarily tested on an iPhone 12 mini running iOS 14. You can’t leave ratings or write user reviews, but on the mobile app you can share shows and movies you’re watching to social media. The mobile video player also includes 10-second rewind and fast-forward buttons, unlike the web version. You can’t download videos to your mobile device for offline viewing. However, I was able to simultaneously watch streams on five devices (three phones, my laptop, and my TV) without running into any limit. BET+ and KweliTV also have seemingly unlimited streams, while Brown Sugar caps you to three streams.

Accessibility and Parental Controls

Allblk’s content listings contain a lot of information, but they don’t include ratings or anything else that might help determine how appropriate content might be for children. The service lacks parental control options, and there’s no ways to create multiple profiles or watchlists under a single account. This has been the case for every Black streaming service we’ve tested, and that’s a bummer.

The service does fare better when it comes to accessibility. On mobile and the web, you can turn on subtitles. On the web, you can also customize subtitles by changing size, color, font, and window transparency. Allblk asks you to specifically report any closed-captioning issues you may run into, but I experienced no problems during testing. There are no audio descriptions, which is still an emerging form of accessibility tech on streaming services.

Allblk and VPN

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: nothing keeps your private information safe and secure online like a VPN. You should get one. Unfortunately, most video streaming services aren’t quite as enthusiastic about VPNs, particularly how VPNs spoof your geographic location to other places in the world where services may have different streaming licensing deals.

I connected my Windows laptop to US-based ProtonVPN servers. Allblk worked just fine, which makes sense for the African-American-focused, US-based service. However, when I switched to a server in Denmark, and then one in Japan, I got a message saying the service wasn’t available in my region. It’s a US-only service, at least right now. That’s annoying, but at least Allblk doesn’t block all VPN traffic outright, the way some other services do. 

All In on Allblk?

Low-resolution streaming and the occasional missing feature aside, Allblk serves its streaming niche well. It may not have Tyler Perry’s latest, beautiful disasters, but Allblk’s lower price and similarly varied library give it a slight edge on BET+ when it comes to mainstream Black entertainment. Robert L. Johnson should feel great about that. 

That said, KweliTV outclasses them both by highlighting a truly overlooked catalog of Black cinema from all across the globe. Hulu, Netflix, and Peacock are our Editors’ Choice picks for live TV, general streaming services, and free streaming services, respectively. They also do a respectable job fostering and spotlighting Black art in their libraries.

Allblk Specs

Starting Price $6.99 per month
Concurrent Streams Unlimited
Live TV No
On-Demand Movies and TV Shows Yes
Original Programming Yes
Anime No
Ads No
Offline Downloads on Mobile No
Product Price Type Direct
Product Category Internet

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